It was a beautiful New York City night and I was hosting a charity event. In between my hosting duties and conversations, I was fielding e-mails and phone calls while bawling my eyes out in the corner because I knew that more personal details of my divorce were about to be made public to the world (and even written up in the news). My marriage was not going to avoid becoming yet another statistic about the high divorce rate. I realized at that moment that I had to face the fact that I was no longer a “we." From that night on, I knew this: I was back to being just “me."
I then began to ask myself, Who am I?!
Well, in the aftermath of this not-so-secret divorce, I have learned quite a few lessons about how to handle the process of grieving, and how I (and how anyone, really) can begin new chapter of life at any moment. Above all, I learned lessons about how to love myself again. Here are a few things I did to arrive at this place of new beginning.
1. I looked at myself ... literally.
If you are trying to fall in love with yourself, I urge you to undress more. Obviously, do this within reason and in the right environment. But to me, it is critical for you to fall back in love with yourself.
After my divorce, I put two huge full- length mirrors in my newly decorated apartment, and I now walk by them all the time. Before, I used to avoid looking at myself, and especially my body. I had not seen my body (nor myself) for a long time during my marriage ... both literally and figuratively.
Now (with blinds shut), I no longer hide from myself and it feels like a deep ritual of self-care. Too often, we take care of anyone and everyone else around us in order to avoid ourselves. But when I was confronted with being alone, I took it as an opportunity to turn inward, proudly and with purpose. This contributes to the confidence I continue to work on every single day.
2. I gave my body the gift of movement, and especially yoga.
Working out has always been an important part of my life in terms of taking care of my body. I have even made an effort to change it up over the years, switching back and forth from running to weights and cross-training.
But, after my breakup I realized that exercise was important to me mentally and emotionally, too. To emphasize this, I started devoting myself to yoga (even though I had always been a huge naysayer when it came to yoga-for-exercise).
And I could not have been proven more wrong. Yoga allowed me to take more time for myself — to unplug without apology and to focus on the poses and on my mantra each class.
3. I indulged in regular beauty treatments (not that one needs anything extra to be beautiful).
Sounds silly, right? Getting my hair and nails done? What business do they have in the process of healing post-breakup/divorce?
Turns out, they have a lot to do with it ... or at least they did in my case. Specifics aside, nurturing and pampering yourself is key to the process of healing, even when you think you have no time, no money, or no interest. Pedicures, manicures, haircuts, hair color, and blow-outs were my form of relaxation. Plus, during a time when I didn’t feel attractive inside or out, these small rituals gave me a little boost in self-confidence.
If this kind of pampering doesn't resonate with you, choose something that does. Do something for yourself just because it feels good.
4. I cleaned up my act in the kitchen and beyond.
After my divorce, I felt it was crucial to "start over" in all facets of my life. I realized that eating right, concentrating on whole, unprocessed, or minimally processed foods gave me energy to deal with life’s stresses. As I made conscious shifts in my diet (making my own shakes and juices as part of this), I don't have to turn to french fries when I am upset, though I eat them from time to time.
As I infused my life with mindfulness in different areas, eating right and taking vitamins as part of my daily regime has become a lifestyle — not a diet or a temporary part of my life. It is like breathing. I just do it naturally because I know it’s right for me.
5. I decluttered and infused my home with love.
I have always been a minimalist. Clutter has never been a friend of mine. So, it came as a shock to me that my heart was very cluttered following my separation and eventually my divorce. I was not sure who I was, where I was going, or what to do next.
My home suddenly became very important to me, both as a refuge and as a symbol of my new beginning. Either way, I was determined to start over again and declutter the things that were blocking me.
A writer friend of mine called me around the time I was rearranging my home and painting it a new color. When I told her what I was doing she said, “Tamsen, you can’t paint away the memories of your marriage.”
Maybe not. But I could put a fresh coat of self-love into my life. And that is exactly what I did.